West Hollywood City Council denied construction Monday night of a controversial development set for the Sunset Strip.
Citing concerns about traffic and impacts upon the surrounding neighborhood, the council voted 4-1 to deny the Centrum Sunset project after a nearly three-hour public hearing. Mayor John Duran cast the only vote for the venture.
Set to go into the old Tower Records location at 8801 Sunset Blvd., the Centrum Sunset project proposed to build a three-story, 47,000-square-foot building, with an upscale David Barton gym and spa as the development's main tenant.
This was Centrum Sunset’s second appearance before the council. In September, the council , citing concerns about parking, video signage and traffic impacts.
The revised project was scheduled to go before council on March 5. However, the day before that meeting, developer Sol Barket sent an saying he did not think he had the votes to win.
That withdrawal turned out to be only temporary as the project was back on Monday night. While the revised project addressed the council’s concerns about parking and offered reduced video signage, the traffic concerns could not be overcome.
The project was projected to add more than 1,200 car trips a day to the chronically congested Sunset-Horn-Holloway intersection. City staff testified that the intersection already has an “F” rating and that during peak evening hours, 56 more cars per hour, approximately one per minute, would be turning onto Horn Avenue to enter the facility.
“This is a tough, tough intersection,” said Councilwoman Abbe Land. “I don’t think this project is the one to have at this intersection.”
Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Prang noted that a project of this density and size would be fine for any other location in town, but was too problematic for this intersection.
The council was dazzled by the prospect of having a David Barton high-end gym in town. Land said, “David Barton is a brand that belongs in West Hollywood."
Prang concurred, calling Barton “a wonderful brand of gym we’d be proud to have in West Hollywood.”
But the council also expressed concern for the future, noting that Barton and other tenants could come and go, but the city would still be left with a huge building.
“We need to make sure that whatever is approved is beneficial in the long run,” said Councilman John Heilman.
Councilman John D’Amico called the project an “amazing next step for West Hollywood,” complimenting both the building’s design and the way council concerns were addressed in the revised plans.
However, concerns about traffic and quality of life for the area residents outweighed his admiration for the project.
“I'm trying desperately to find a way to vote for this project, but the impacts on residential streets are too much,” said D’Amico. “It has been clearly stated that they cannot be mitigated.”
More than 60 people spoke during public comment, which lasted for 90 minutes. Those speakers were fairly evenly divided for and against the project.
After the council vote, Centrum Sunset developer Sol Barket told Weho Patch he was disappointed.
“We’re going to move forward with a long-term lease for the property as it stands today,” Barket said.